JF1405: Conversation With “The Go Giver” Author with John David Mann

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John and his co author came out with The Go Giver 10 years ago! The book is all about putting other people’s’ needs first. They have a cult following around their first book and are coming out with another book very soon. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


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John David Mann Background:

  • Has co-authored seven New York Times and national bestsellers
  • This week he launches the his next parable, THE GO-GIVER INFLUENCER
  • Concert cellist, award-winning composer, high school founder, educator, publisher, and entrepreneur
  • Say hi to him at  http://johndavidmann.com/

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, John David Mann. How are you doing, John?

John David Mann: I am doing fantastic, thanks, Joe.

Joe Fairless: I’m glad to hear it, and I’m really glad that you’re on the show. If you recognize John’s name, then that’s because you’re a fan, just like I am, of the Go-Giver series. Recently, he just launched a book “The Go-Giver Influencer.” He’s co-authored seven New York Times and national best-sellers. Seven. He’s also a concert cellist, award-winning composer, high school founder, educator, publisher and entrepreneur, but we are gonna be focused on the Go-Giver Influencer and the lessons that he has in the book, and we’re gonna be talking about how they can be applied towards us as real estate investors. I’m really excited about this… Are you ready, John?

John David Mann: I am ready, I am buckled in.

Joe Fairless: Alright. Well, first, can you give some context for the Go-Giver Influencer? Just in case a Best Ever listener is not familiar with the Go-Giver series…

John David Mann: Sure. First, the original Go-Giver – which I wrote all these books with my buddy Bob Burg, who has a long background in sales and sales training, amazing teacher, and he is the guy whose name always comes first, because [unintelligible [00:02:35].29]

Bob and I came out with the original Go-Giver ten years ago. I cannot believe it’s been a decade, but it has… And the Go-Giver was a parable, a little story [unintelligible [00:02:48].16] in which a mysterious mentor named Pindar got what he called the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success. That book has gained kind of a cult following.

We were saying before we pushed the button that we got a new addition that came out a couple years ago, and Arianna Huffington wrote the foreword and Glenn Beck endorsed it on the back, and I love those book-ends… Arianna Huffington and Glenn Beck – how about that?!

Joe Fairless: That’d be quite the dinner party.

John David Mann: Yeah, you put them on two ends of a battery and you get a charge going. [laughter] So it’s getting kind of a cult following, and the basic message of the Go-Giver – it’s not just about being a nice person or being altruistic or being unselfish or being noble, or all these fine, high-sounding things… The core idea of the Go-Giver  is putting other people’s interests first; making the shift from putting me first to putting others first is not just a nice way to live, it’s also smart and pragmatic in a business sense, in a practical sense.

If you look out for other people’s interests first, if you gain the reputation of being a person who does that, if you genuinely approach interactions – whether it’s in business or just in relationships and friendships – with the question “How can I serve this person? How can I make his/her life better? How can I enhance their lives and give them value?” If you make that your primary question, people are gonna take care of you; you’re gonna end up being taken care of yourself.

So the principle we evolved out of that is Pindar’s paradox, which is the more you give, the more you have. That’s the idea behind that book.

There was a second parable a couple years later called The Go-Giver Leader, which took those core ideas and looked at them through the lens of leadership. And now here we are, a decade later, time for book number three.

Bob and I were talking for the last couple years, like “What should we write about next?” and it seemed to us that in this fractious, polarized world of today, that whether you’re talking politically or in any sense, that we’d kind of like to hear what Pindar has to say about teaching us how to talk to each other, how to listen to opinions we disagree with, how to negotiate, whether it’s negotiating business deals or just negotiating a friendship… How to communicate with people with whom we may differ, or with whom there’s any kind of conflict or disagreement or unseen cross-interests, and to do so in a way that’s productive and effective for all parties involved.

Joe Fairless: So with the Go-Giver, maybe it’s all the above, but hear me out on this – is it about effective communication with people when we differ in certain stances on subjects? When I hear Go-Giver Influencer I think “How can I be someone who people go to for certain resources, because they know I’m a leader in that space?”

John David Mann: Great question. It’s funny,  because the idea of influence has been sort of central to all the books. In that original book there were five laws of stratospheric success, and law number three, the middle of the five, was the law of influence. Simply stated, that was “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first”, and the characters in that book talked about how that works in terms of business and investing in real estate and everything.

In the second parable, Go-Giver Leader, there is a whole chapter called Influence. So this is sort of a theme we’ve been playing with throughout – how to be a genuinely influential person. The first book talks about what makes a person have influence, and the hero of the book says “I don’t know… Authority? Position? Power? Money? Experience?” and [unintelligible [00:06:29].19] says “Yeah, that’s what most people would say, and that’s upside down. It’s backwards.” Those things don’t create influence, influence creates those things. Being genuinely influential happens when you genuinely place other people’s interests first, and that generates a gravitational field around you that builds power, position, authority, respect, experience, money etc.

Now, coming to this book, your excellent question… The secret of this book is we started out calling it The Go-Giver Negotiator. That was our original idea. We wanted to talk about the principles of negotiation, which Bob is a master at how to get what you want without manipulation, without intimidation, without running over the other person, without making it a zero-sum game and making it “Me versus them.” How to make it a genuine — win/win is a great term, but too often in practical life what win/win really means is “I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. I did this favor, now you owe me.” [unintelligible [00:07:28].07]

But that’s what we’re after – genuine win/win. How to create a deal or an outcome that raises all ships, not just mine… This big tide. So the setup of the book is instead of having a single hero, like we did in the other two books, this book has a double hero – there’s a guy and a woman, two people who are negotiating between them a business deal. A young business owner, and then a rep for a big firm.

The two of them are sitting down to negotiate a deal. They each have something the other one wants, and they’re kind of at loggerheads. That’s the engine that drives the book. Instead of being one mentor, there are two mentors. The whole idea is about twoness becoming oneness.

So practically speaking, the book follows two people in a difficult negotiation over the course of a week.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

John David Mann: As we were writing, we said, you know, we don’t just wanna call this Negotiator, because what we’re really talking about is what are the ways of communication  – as you started out with your question – the ways of being with somebody else that not only produce a good deal, a good outcome, but make you a person of influence, make you the kind of person that others go to in times of trouble or discord for advice, for leadership, for wisdom, for guidance.

So it’s Influencer in the sense of two people influencing each other positively, the principles of persuasion. The subtitle of the book is “A little story about a most persuasive idea.” And it is about positive persuasion. You can apply that in the context of negotiating a deal, but we also wanted to sort of spin that in a larger framework of being influential in your whole world.

Joe Fairless: I love that, because that takes it up another notch. It’s not just about negotiating approaches that make it — I like how you said “Two becomes one.” And you’re a seven-time New York Times best-selling author, so I’m gonna assume that twoness is the actual word, so I’m just gonna repeat what you’re saying… [laughs] It is now – okay, fine. Fair. Then it takes it from just negotiating to then what things can we do during the negotiating that have long-term sustainable impact that then make us become a person of influence, because guess what, our entire life we are solving challenges where someone isn’t exactly thinking exactly how we’re thinking about that particular thing at that point in time… That happens to come up frequently, so how can we use those situations where we’re not just solving that, but we’re becoming a person of influence through our actions… So how can we do that?

John David Mann: You’re so right… Whether it’s with your spouse, with your boss, with your colleagues, your partners… All your life, exactly. In a sense, you’re negotiating constantly, because we live in a world of diversity. So the book teaches what the characters call the five secrets of ultimate influence… And it’s five steps. All of our parables are based on the five steps. I have a thing about five, I love it. Four fingers and a thumb.

The first four laws are [unintelligible [00:10:40].00] and the fifth always seems contrary. The fifth is the counter-intuitive “Huh!?” that makes the whole thing work. So I’ll go through the five secrets real quickly.

Joe Fairless: That would be lovely. I’d love that.

John David Mann: And these do work as hardcore negotiating principles as well in a business deal. In fact, there’s one character – Jackson is the main character, and Jackson’s father, Walt, has these old-school, hardcore “kill’em” negotiating tricks and tactics he tries to teach his son, and they’re hilarious.

Joe Fairless: I’ve never come across anyone ever like that.

John David Mann: I know you never do, but I’m just saying… No one did, ever. [laughter] But I had so much fun writing Walt, because he’s so old-school, and just exactly how you don’t wanna be.

The first secret, number one, is master your emotions. The idea of master your emotions is you get into a room and you’re having a disagreement, it’s really easy to let the strength of your convictions, the power of your feelings start to hold sway. The problem is feelings are really unreliable. One of the characters says “If you let your feelings behind the steering wheel, then you’re at the mercy of a drunk driver.”

So the idea of master your emotions, whether it’s an argument with your spouse or an argument with your child, or a business negotiation or anything else, or you’re on Twitter having a word war with somebody who doesn’t hold the same political belief – I know that never happens to anybody, but just let’s suppose it did… So the first thing is set your emotions to the side. And by that,  we don’t mean deny them or suppress them or pretend you don’t have them, but just let them sit in the passenger’s seat. It’s so easy to react and to come from reaction and to use phrases that incite reaction… Like, “If you only knew what you were talking about…”, or “Well, first of all, let me set you straight on…”, or as in the old Saturday Night Live, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

So master your emotions, set them to the driver’s seat is number one. Make calm your default setting. This is something you could actually practice. When you  start to feel yourself upset, to actually let your emotions kind of sink down into your gut; have them, but breathe and go back to your thoughts and your logic and what you’re thinking here.

That’s a response you can actually train your nervous system to master. It’s a neurological pathway in your central nervous system that reacts emotionally. So what you wanna do is train yourself to respond, rather than react, and that’s the first secret.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

John David Mann: And interestingly, when you do that, it puts calm, rational thinking in the driver’s seat, which may sound cold and bloodless, but that’s exactly what you need right now… Because that’s the doorway through which you can start to get to empathy, which is where we’re going.

So that’s number one… Number two is to listen. Simply listen and attempt to step into the other person’s shoes. Ask yourself the question “What is it they’re actually saying? What is it they’re actually after here?” What are they saying, and also what are they not saying? If I read between the lines, what would I pick on that I’m not picking up on? What is it like to be that person, sitting in that seat?

There’s a judge in the story who says “You know, in all the divorce cases that I sat on the bench and listened to, all the arbitrations I listened to, not once did any party every genuinely, sincerely make the effort to figure out what the other person actually wanted.” It was always “How can I get through this with my own goals intact?”

Joe Fairless: A judge in your book, or a judge you spoke to?

John David Mann: A judge in the book. I’ve spoken to judges too, but there’s a character in the book called The Judge, who’s just a delightful person. So listen genuinely, not strategically so that you can figure out what you’re gonna say when they stop talking, but to actually try to put yourself in their shoes, which of course is the beginning of empathy.

The third secret is to set the frame of the conversation, or if the frame has already been set by the slam of the door with the person walking in, then to reset the frame. There’s always a frame being set in any interaction. For example, if you’re at the front desk in a hotel and they’ve messed up your room, and you need to be at a meeting in two hours, you’ve gotta get in there and change, and the room is not gonna be free for two more hours, they have no other rooms, you can set the frame by saying “This is impossible. I need that room. I need to speak to a manager.” That’s all true, but what you’ve just set is a confrontational frame. It isn’t that that’s evil or morally bad, but it’s ineffective, it’s impractical, because now you’ve basically set up a battle. The manager is gonna come in already pre-framed to duke it out with you.

If you would say instead “You know, this must be so frustrating for you… I understand your position and I totally get what’s happening here. I have this meeting I need to get to, and I can see [unintelligible [00:15:28].01] there’s no room available… I don’t know how we’re gonna fix this, but do you think a manager would help?” or however it is that you frame it, to frame it in a way that you and the person behind the desk are on the same side of the problem and you need to figure it out together. That’s a reframe.

A reframe can be as simple as a smile. A reframe can be as simple as “I never thought of it that way.” Or here’s a great one, by the way, for social media, where you don’t have the opportunity to smile or do a lot of body language… A great reframe on a social media exchange is “I’ve never thought of it that way”, or “There’s probably a lot I don’t know about this”, or “I could have this wrong, but…” To accept responsibility for being wrong first may seem like you’re setting up for weakness, but it’s actually putting you in a position of strength.

Joe Fairless: The first three so far – I could see how all of them could be challenging. I almost said the last one might be the most challenging because you open yourself up to vulnerability, but boy, the first two I could also see… Master your emotions – welcome to life. That’s Tony Robbins’ seminars all year long and you still might not even scratch the surface there.

John David Mann: The secret to that one is to practice it in little pieces. All these things you could practice a little tiny bit at a time. There are things you can do, like isometric exercises – a little bit every day, five seconds at a time.

Sorry, go ahead. You were gonna say then listening is also challenging.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, but I like how you mentioned some practical exercises… So maybe we’ll go through these five, and then if there’s any additional practical exercises to wrap it up, we’ll talk about that briefly.

John David Mann: Sure. Yeah, and there’s great ones for this number three, but let me just get to four; we’ll do what you just said. The fourth secret is simply to be gracious, to communicate — gracious, by the way, has the same root as graceful, and the same root as gratitude. They’re good words, they’re strategic words.

This secret is to communicate with tact and empathy. They’re related, although they’re not exactly the same. Tact is how you actually communicate, what you say and what you don’t say, and how you listen. Empathy is how you feel [unintelligible [00:17:38].29] Communicating with tact and empathy, again, is one of those things that can seem like the language of weakness… In fact, as Bob says in our second parable, tact is the language if strength. It’s the same thing as that reframe. Instead of just calling somebody out and hurling invectives at them, to say “I totally get where you’re coming from and this might not make sense, or I don’t know if this would work, but let me suggest blah-blah-blah-blah.”

It’s not being wishy-washy, it’s simply being respectful. And interestingly, not always, but often, the person will start to mirror that back. Their little mirror neurons will kick in. You could be setting yourself in the pathway of a reasonable conversation.

Empathy is the biggest one here of everything we’ve said so far, I think… Because empathy is not acting like you’re doing NLP, not acting like you’re mirroring the person and using their same phrases [unintelligible [00:18:38].20] Empathy is genuinely seeking to understand where they’re coming from, and trying to not just understand it, but feel it… To feel what they feel.

Stepping in someone’s shoes is trying to understand where they’re coming from, empathy is actually feeling it.

Joe Fairless: It certainly ties into all of them… Mastering your emotions – if you have empathy towards the other person, then you’re not just focused on yourself; you’re focused on them, therefore your emotions are mastered. Listening – well, that’s a direct correlation with empathy. Setting the frame – well, you could be wrong; it’s very possible you might have this wrong, but here are my thoughts… You’re empathizing with their perspective, and then obviously the being gracious part. That makes sense.

John David Mann: So the fifth secret is to let go of having to be right. This one’s tricky, because of course you’re right, right? You wouldn’t think what you think if you didn’t think it was right. You wouldn’t be after what you’re after if you didn’t want it. So we’re not saying “Let go of being right.” We’re not saying “Give up your position, compromise your principles.” In fact, at one point a character in the book says “Compromise comes from a Latin word meaning nobody ends up getting what they want.”

Of course, it doesn’t come from any such Latin word at all. We made that up. And the character in the book is making it up too, but that’s what compromise often turns into. Compromise… Typically what happens when two parties — neither one gets the other, neither one is empathizing with or hearing the other, so they end up creating this diluted, watered-down version of the solution that doesn’t satisfy either one. That’s a compromise… And that’s why so many wars, once they arrive at an armistice, a war breaks out again, because it was a compromise. Most of what looked like resolutions are at their heart compromises that didn’t actually arrive at resolutions.

So this fifth secret is let go of having to be right, which simply means entertaining the possibility that there might be something I’m not seeing here. I think I’m right, I really do. I think my opinion about this political thing or economic thing, or this deal, or that company, or whatever, or whether or not I put the toilet seat up or down, or whatever we’re arguing about – this is how I remember it, I really think I’m right, but it’s acknowledging that I’m not god, and that I’m not omniscient and omnipotent, and that there may be factors I haven’t thought of, so let’s just open it up to possibility here.

Joe Fairless: Okay. On that front, when you open up the possibility, at what point do you close the door…? Let’s say an impartial judge would rule that you’re 100% right; at what point do you say “Yeah, yeah, I’m opening up to be wrong, but clearly I’m right.” How does that go?

John David Mann: It’s a great question. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to answer because it’s so situational. But I will say this – one is that when you get into this dynamic of Pindar’s paradox (the more you give, the more you have), letting go of knee-jerk, gut-wrench reaction of clenching onto your position, that kind of white-knuckled having to be right, and just relax and breathe and open yourself to possibilities (not giving up your position, but just opening up to possibility), it’s amazing how often new solution present themselves that neither party thought of yet. Not compromises, but altogether new solutions.

That’s what happens in the book, by the way – there’s a resolution at the end that neither of them saw coming. We do that in every book, and the reason we do it is not just to make a surprise ending, but because we’ve seen that happen so often in life and in business. At the same time, we’re not trying to paint this Pollyanna picture, like it’s like a magic wand. You’re not gonna resolve every dispute, there are times when you really are right, there are times where you really are convinced you’re right and you’re actually wrong, because there is wrong and right sometimes in the facts of the matter. It’s an interesting thing…

I had a weird experience once. I walked in a bankruptcy court; one of my first businesses had gone bankrupt. It went skyrocket up, skyrocket down. There I was, sitting in front of a judge, and my single largest creditor was at the hearing. Most of the creditors didn’t come, they just accepted the judge’s ruling, but this guy showed up. My business owed him more than anybody else… And he asked if he could speak, and the judge said “Sure”, and he stood up and said “Is there any way that we can work it out so that he owes me less and can pay me less than you’re suggesting?” and the judge was freaked out, because he’d never heard anyone saying that.

It was just because we’d had really excellent communication. So you just never know what kind of resolution, what kind of leftfield when you make it a human interaction.

Joe Fairless: What’s one practical thing we can do after this conversation to apply so many things? Obviously, you have my word, I’m buying this book; I have a call after this, but I’m buying the book before I go to sleep tonight, because I love the Go-Giver. But besides reading the book, what’s one practical exercise?

John David Mann: When you’re in any kind of conflict, whether you’re face-to-face or you’re even just thinking about it, take a deep breath before you even frame a response; take a deep breath, smile at least internally (on your face, if possible), and think “What is it I don’t know about this yet, but I can find out in the next five minutes?”

Joe Fairless: Got it. Love it. How can the Best Ever listeners get this book?

John David Mann: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, anywhere. The Go-Giver Influencer. It’s on my website, JohnDavidMann.com. It’s brand new off the shelf, I hope you enjoy it. There’s a dog and [unintelligible [00:24:13].15]

Joe Fairless: Awesome. John, thank you so much for being on the show, teaching us the five secrets of ultimate influence. One, master emotions, two, listen, three, set the frame, four, be gracious, and five, let go without having to be right. This is not just a book about negotiation, it’s about how to approach the circumstances where we might not have everyone agreeing or thinking exactly how we’re thinking at that point in time, and becoming an influencer because of how we approach those daily interactions with the people when we come across those situations.

Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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